Laws and regulations

  • Saudi woman driver released from jail

    Saudi women are not allowed to drive because, according to Saudi senior clerics, prohibiting women from driving is a protection against the spread of vice and temptation because women drivers would be free to leave home alone and interact with male strangers; the prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers or rely on male relatives to drive; on 21 May, a 32-year old woman posted on the Web a video of herself driving, and was promptly arrested and thrown in jail; her posting was part of a campaign calling on Saudi women to show up on 17 June in their family cars — driving, not being driven — for drive-around rallies for women’s rights in major Saudi cities

  • Minneapolis airport security drill upsets Muslim rights group

    A national Muslim civil rights group is calling on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate the reinforcement of racial profiling in training exercise after a recent security drill at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport; the drill took place on 12 May and involved a man of Middle-Eastern descent who attempted to smuggle a device made to look like a bomb hidden inside a shaving kit; in response to the exercise, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a letter to Secretary Napolitano on Monday requesting that she review “the use of outside trainers who offer hostile, stereotypical and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam”

  • Study urges DHS to stop seizing laptops at border

    A recent report called on DHS to stop its border agents from searching electronic devices like laptops and smartphones of individuals entering the United States without reasonable suspicion of wrong doing; the study, released last week by the bipartisan legal think tank The Constitution Project, argued that computers and cell phones contain far too much personal information and searching these devices without probable cause violates privacy considerations; border patrol agents have routinely conducted searches of individuals and their belongings entering the country, it is only recently become a potential legal issue due to the vast amount of personal data that electronic devices can now hold

  • Lawsuit against DHS contractor grows to $17 million

    The lawsuit against private security firm Eagle Technologies Inc. has recently ballooned to more than $17 million; the firm was sued in March 2010 by a dozen current and former employees who provided armed security at the yet to be opened DHS National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland; the employees accused Eagle Technologies, which was recently purchased by Protection Strategies Inc., of withholding overtime pay, failing to reimburse employees for work-related expenses, and other labor violations; an investigation by the Department of Labor found that the firm had committed sixty-one labor violations

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  • Brooklyn mosque moves forward, clears legal hurdle

    A mosque in Brooklyn, New York is moving ahead with construction plans after a New York state judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by an anti-mosque organization; its construction was blocked after local residents began actively protesting stating that the religious facility would negatively affect the neighborhood; Judge Mark Partnow ruled in favor of the mosque’s proponents after Lamis Deek, the attorney representing the mosque’s builder, suggested that opposition was based on racism, going so far as to call protestors terrorists; Albery Butzel, the attorney representing Bay People, said that the organization is not anti-Muslim and insisted that the group’s opposition was based on a lack of parking

  • 247 on U.S. terror watch list bought guns, explosives in 2010

    There are eleven reasons why an individual may not be able to buy firearms or explosives in the United States — for example, being a convicted felon or an illegal immigrant; those on the U.S. terror watch list, however, are free to buy firearms and explosives; according to the FBI, in 2010 247 of them did — a similar number to that of 2009; some lawmakers want the attorney general to be able to prevent an individual on the watch list to buy a gun, but the counterargument is that the list is not always accurate, and that the attorney general is a political appointee; moreover, the list is secret, and letting people know they are on it may complicate the ability of law enforcement to track them and their associates

  • California school building regulators had ties with anti-regulation lobby group

    A California watchdog group recently revealed that state officials in charge of enforcing earthquake standards for school buildings have had a long and questionable relationship with a lobbying group that actively works to oppose building safety regulations in public schools; senior officials with the Division of the State Architect had been dues paying members of the Coalition for Adequate School Housing, which actively lobbies for less regulation on school construction; in 1997, state regulators were told that taxpayers would reimburse their membership dues to be a part of the lobbying group; officials maintain that there has been no corruption; in 2010 a major regulatory provision in place since 1933 was removed

  • House panel extends chemical plant safety act

    In 2006, Congress first authorized DHS to regulate security at high-risk chemical facilities. In response, DHS developed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS); to date, DHS has reviewed information submitted by more than 39,000 chemical facilities and determined that 4,744 are high-risk and, therefore, covered under CFATS; yesterday, a House panel voted for a 7-year extension of CFATS

  • Federal court upholds ruling against Arizona immigration law

    A federal appeals court ruled against the controversial Arizona immigration law stating that it was a violation of the constitution; the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a stay blocking the implementation of significant portions of the Arizona immigration law stating that immigration enforcement was a federal responsibility and the Arizona law overstepped its bounds; last month five additional immigration bills failed to pass through the Arizona legislature including the highly controversial attempt to deny children of illegal immigrants birthright citizenship; experts believe that the bills failed largely as a result of the business community’s opposition

  • TSA fired an agent for being a witch

    TSA fires a security screener at New York’s Albany International Airport for being a witch; the screener, who practices Wicca, was accused by a fellow worker of casting a spell on her (the fellow worker’s) car’s heater so it would not work; when the screener refused to participate in mediation to dispel myths about Wicca, she was terminated

  • Federal judge denies judgment for nightmare arrest

    A Long Island resident, who took a photograph alongside a public road of a mock-up military helicopter on display at Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County, was arrested in July 2009 on suspicions of terrorism; her subsequent mistreatment and the mishandling of litigation by the town of Southampton led to the filing of a $70 million default judgment which was recently denied by a federal judge

  • Bill to protect anti-terror tipsters from discrimination suits

    Three U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Tuesday joined a growing campaign to expand protections for Americans who tip off law enforcement to potential terrorist threats from discrimination lawsuits if they identify the wrong person; their legislation is just the latest effort to win protections for tipsters of suspicious terror activities; the current U.S. legal system deters some Americans from tipping off authorities; a group of US Airways passengers were sued in 2006 after reporting six Islamic clerics who requested seat changes and asked for seat belt extenders that she said could have been used as weapons; “We cannot afford to let those who help prevent terror attacks become the targets of senseless liability suits,” said one of the sponsors

  • In Tennessee, supporting Shariah law may soon be a felony

    A Tennessee lawmaker is sponsoring a bill which would make it a felony in the state to knowingly support Shariah law; the bill, if passed, would allow the state’s attorney general to designate an entity as a Shariah organization if the organization knowingly adheres to Shariah; if the organization “engages in, or retains the capability and intent to engage in” an act of terrorism; or if the act of terrorism of the organization “threatens the security of public safety” of Tennessee residents; violations of the proposed law would be a Class B felony, punishable by fine and a prison term of up to fifteen years; a similar measure passed in November by Oklahoma voters that banned the use of Shariah law in state courtrooms was later blocked by a federal judge pending the resolution of a lawsuit calling it unconstitutional

  • ATF pushes for power to track bulk assault rifle sales

    As more guns used in the bloody Mexican drug wars are traced back to the United States, efforts to crack down on illegal gun smuggling rings in border states have struggled to gain more traction; last month, the House denied the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) an emergency request to track bulk sales of semiautomatic guns in border states; a 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that an estimated 85 percent of guns seized by Mexican authorities originated from the United States; a recent investigation found that traffickers were purchasing as many as forty AK-47 rifles at a time from gun shops in the Phoenix area

  • U.S. appealing warrantless wiretapping court defeat

    In the first and likely only lawsuit resulting in a ruling against the secret National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, a San Francisco federal judge in December awarded $20,400 each to two American lawyers illegally wiretapped by the George W. Bush administration, and granted their counsel $2.5 million for the costs litigating the case for more than four years; the Obama administration is appealing the judge’s ruling